21 Aug 2009

Solomons cabinet to defuse entitlement row as strike looms

12:57 pm on 21 August 2009

The Solomon Islands cabinet is to meet today to discuss ways of averting a public sector strike next week.

The Solomon Islands Public Employees Union has submitted a list of demands, including a cost of living adjustment allowance and housing entitlements, and says its 28-day strike notice will expire on Sunday at midnight.

Correspondent Dorothy Wickham says the pending strike stems from local outrage over an earlier cabinet decision to pay grants to politicians wives.

"Parliamentarians have passes a motion to give their wives 50,000 dollars each at the end of their term, which is next year just before the national elections. And the public service is saying 'if you're able to give these increases in your entitlements, then you are able to give us the increase in our salaries' they have been demanding for the last few years."

Dorothy Wickham says there is some nervousness among Members of Parliament who have been under pressure from constituents over the grants to spouses.

A select committee has been set up to review the entitlement which has not yet been paid out.

Ms Wickham says a huge part of the work force are public employees and if the strike goes ahead it will have an impact on the local economy and the provision of services.